It’s the week before Halloween: cable stations all across this great and noble land are rolling out their horror film marathons, blocks of staggeringly diverse horror movies interspersed with horror film documentaries/retrospectives and collectively named “Monster Fest” or “Halloween Horror Nights” or “Screamgasm” or the like. Starz! is broadcasting a new documentary to accompany their “Fear Fest” horror marathon this weekend, BLOODSUCKING CINEMA, a clip/interview retrospective detailing the modern vampire film.
Beginning with—what else—NOSFERATU, BLOODSUCKING CINEMA immediately flaunts its lack of educational intent by jumping all over the place chronologically, from DRACULA to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN to JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES to the Hammer horror films of the late 50s and 60s. It only takes a few minutes to realize that this is a television special that is intended to entertain, not to educate. And at its best moments, it BARELY entertains. Featuring a handful of clips and stills, the documentary consists primarily of interview segments, and it does manage to corral some new sound bites from John Carpenter, Stan Winston, John Landis, and Joel Schumacher, but it’s also packed to the fangs with self-indulgent rambling from Les Wiseman and Stephen Sommers, two dudes who wouldn’t know creative subtlety if it came up and bit them on the scrotum.
The doc suffers from a lack of film clips, although the scenes that do make the cut are wholly appropriate and gloriously R-rated. Instead the doc bounces around from movie to movie, from talking head to talking head, from theme to theme, and for awhile the constant change of perspective keeps things interesting, but the seemingly endless postulating from Harry Knowles and Stuart Townsend grows progressively irksome, and I can only look at Leonard Maltin’s bearded child molester face for so long before wanting to jam a Phillips screwdriver into my throat.
Admittedly, there are a quite a few interesting tidbits scattered among the interviews. For instance, I didn’t know that Cheech Marin was a huge puss when it came to the colored contact lenses he had to wear for FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, or that Kristanna Loken takes BLOODRAYNE waaaaay too seriously. Which brings to mind another monumental fault, the fact that blatantly shitty vampire movies like BLOODRAYNE, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, or VAN HELSING are given as much attention as the higher quality staples of vampire cinema. An even worse sin in committed when the documentary neglects to mention vampire touchstones like NEAR DARK, FRIGHT NIGHT, or THE HUNGER. BLOODSUCKING CINEMA is completely anemic, a string of slow, ponderous opinions graced with the occasional film clip. Recommended for old people who want to learn about vampire movies.